tv [untitled] October 8, 2011 7:30am-8:00am PDT
the door to a different kind of development which would otherwise occur. as your staff as noted, we do not want to divide these properties and lose control of the whole of the site. there is a laurel heights in as the university of california, a supreme court is a 1988. the case says that if you are approving a project and there is a reasonably foreseeable future project, you need to look at them together. here, is not reasonably foreseeable that the land is going to be developed. it is admitted that it is going to be developed. there is no reason to subdivide except to facilitate development. it is reasonably foreseeable. this is an incredibly desirable piece of property that they are trying to figure out how to develop.
the right way to do it is to submit an application, study it, mitigate it, and then consider it. the planning department and the planning commission has the basis for considering approval. supervisor campos: just a quick question. what you say in response to the notion that somehow, if you're talking about future construction, you deal with that later. this is not the time to take that into consideration. >> that is why i bought a couple of points. ceqa does not allow that. i can appreciate that some supervisors may think, can we do a letter? the regulations say you cannot. this case is meaningful, not just for a role, once to subdivide, you lose the ability to do anything on the second parcel. each parcel will be independent. the category local exemption itself says that when you're
looking at subdivisions, you have to consider future development. you cannot do a subdivision if a lot is more than 20% silk. -- 20% slope. the administrative agency recognized the subdivisions have impact because they are filmset -- because there facilitating development. you do not have the freedom to say, we do not want to look at what comes next, we just want to look at step one and want to pretend as if there is not a step too. you cannot say for certain that there is no possible environmental impact. by deferring, you limit the options for mitigation, limit your ability to control the environmental consequences of the project. president chiu: are you going to use any of your time so that we can hear from your expert?
>> he was the next 10 minutes because the issues are substantive. i can use whatever time is left on the substance of the technical issues. president chiu: any more questions to the council? thank you very much. what we proceed to the next presentation? >> good evening. my name is lawrence carp. i am a geotechnical engineer. i have been working -- president chiu: could use the close to the microphone please? >> i've been working in san francisco for 50 years. i worked on telegraph hill, bilford landing, the end of alpha street. i have been building along in a pure land -- along napier lane.
i am familiar with this piece of property because i worked for jack wheaton and davies on their property next door to build a retaining wall for them and a deck about 15 years ago. this particular property 1171 sansome slopes upward. the average slope from the northwest corner to the southwest corner is 68%. the upper part -- president chiu: 68% compared to the standard of 24%. >> right. about three times the amount
allowed for a categorical exception for both line adjustments for 305 n ha -- 305 and 315 for subdivisions. in the upper part of the slope off of lower california terrace, which has not improved, is a massive sandstone that is very strong. as you move down the slope, it is supported by a shale. that shale is raveling. if you look at the diagram, the last figure, you can see the raveling shale from the back of
is there a pointer? >> no pointer. >> ok. you want me to use that as a pointer? president chiu: no, you need to speak into it. i think we can see the white you are referring to. >> this is the shale. it is eroding, raveling. you can see it. that line right there is where it comes to surface and occupies this area and down a slope a little bit. i will put of the diagram so you can get an idea of what that
looks like. that raveling is taking place right there. you are seeing it looking north coming down the hill. this is the plot of sand some -- this is the block of sandstone right here that was quarried at the turn of the century. here is this weak shale, slippery, that is supporting this block of sandstone. there is another unit and down below here there is more shale. lot a is to the right of this section. the point is that if you islot a
without owning what is lot b, you have no assurance that you can support all of this material above here. on the flank are the apartments . the geology and typography slopes up from the southeast corner to the northwest corner. if excavation is not done very carefully, having access to the entire property, this all could be lost here. it is a threat to the buildings here. it is an environmental -- a
potential very significant environmental impact if this is developed this way. by having a whole lot, if you wanted to develop the lower part, he can go to the top and stabilize the upper part and work down. if you do not have the upper part to work from, if somebody else owns it and you do not have access to it and you excavate down below, you could cause a massive failure here. in this, along sam some in -- along amnsome street is the area that is unstable. there were quarry operations there. at green street, to the south, that is where the crusher was. for the quarry.
if any of you have been there, you the results of that. blasting the quarry for about 30 years. until 1908. it is very important, from an engineering standpoint and a practical standpoint that all of that property is treated as one piece of property. if the lower part is developed, they are able to stabilize the upper part first. there is no way to assure that would ever happen if the property was divided. was there is a subdivision, you cannot go back. you cannot call for an environmental review when somebody plans for a building. it is too late. once approved the subdivision, ceqa is foreclosed. president chiu: could you talk about the landslide activity on
the hill? i have a document from 1998 referring to landslide activity on that site. we all know the major landslide that happened in 2007 that destroyed buildings and restaurants in the area. could you talk about telegraph hill's history in recent years? >> at this site, what i've seen in the last 15 years is -- the last 17 years is that this knob here at the top has broken off and gone down the hill. the lower part, where all the debris is from previous slides, has trees and it is heavily vegetated. that is the stabilizing force. then there are two retaining wall systems at the bottom with staggered seal nothing.
-- seal netting. when vegetation falls, you do not see that. when i was there, a rock the size of a volkswagen it came down about a month ago. last week, we had a jackhammer up to small pieces. president chiu: you said this happened one month ago? >> yes, that is on greene street. it is right next to the property, but it is not the property. what i see here is the unraveling of the shell on the south flank of the lot. you can see rocks that have come down to vegetation. there are trees there and no houses so no one pays attention to it. a little further up, down below,
near the house on lower calhoun terrace, you can see rocks fall. president chiu: any follow-up questions? let me ask the appellants -- any other point you would like to make? you still have some time. ok. at this time, why don't we move to the planning department for your presentation. you have of 210 minutes with regard to both ordeals. 10 minutes apiece. >> mr. president, are we going to take public comment? president chiu: my apologies. if we could take public comment, each speakership now up to two minutes to speak and you could speak to one, the other, or both
of the appeals in your to monetary first speaker. >> i watched the first killing -- the first hearing. we had a lot of folks lined up for 4:00. they had to leave because of other commitments. i do not have the emotionally charged at risk housing that is before you. i do not have the kind of passionate testimony you heard in the last 3.5 hours. but what i do have sounds boring but it is not resolved it is a law that we are all bound by. it is a series of statutes and we have no obligation but to follow it. when we are looking at a subdivision map, which may seem like a minor deal, why are we worrying about a map? let's just deal with it when it comes up. ceqa does not let us do that. whether it is a subdivision map or a 100 unit condo project, ceqa applies. because it has been around for
decades, there is a lot of case law to interpret this. i know it can get dense, but the bottom line is, there are a series of cases, one in particular called the city of antioch. in this case, a sewer line was that issue. not a big building or construction deal. the proponents of the sewer line made the exact same arguments being made here. they said listen, a negative declaration is for the fine. there is no project at issue here. what is the big deal? the court of appeals overruled that. they said the requirement of an early preparation of eir is designed to provide a piece male review by which corporations emerge from chopping a large project into little ones. another case where a tentative map was issued. the determination of a negative
declaration was ok. to make sure and eir was done with a product of such significance. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good evening. i am here to speak on behalf of the telegraph hill dwellers. i am the privilege of -- i have the privilege of being the current president. although i was just it'll -- although was educated on this project, and people had been talking about for over a decade. this particular side has been a setup and development three times previously in numerous incarnation. the bottom line is, nothing has changed. telegraph hill -- people think of the tower and the northeast side of the hill, but this is the far side of the hill. it is the seat and rocky side of the hill in an area that has not been developed but someday might be. if that is going to be done in
accordance with the law and the sensitivity of the shell on the site, an environmental review needs to be done. i had the opportunity to speak with this project sponsored. i asked him whether his previous offer to donate one of the adjacent parcels to a non-profit group was still in place? he said not for now. in i asked whether he would consider limiting the height on future developments now rather than leave it to a future project. he said no. i am here on behalf of the telegraph hill dollars to support this appeal and urge that see what is applied. -- urged that ceqa is applied. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good evening president chiu
and members of the board. my name is joseph lawler. i am an architect in the city and a member of the american institute of architects. i speak in support of the appeal. i would like to talk about the history of the north-facing slopes. on the overhead, i shoot -- i show you the u.s. post survey. it shows the intersection of sansome and union st. on the map, it does not stop at union. a continues through. that is because the slope of the hill came down gradually. to traverse that slope with a horse and carriage was not possible. in 1885, or 120 years, there has been a history of excavations and st. flattening of telegraph hill on the north and east slopes. what that leaves us with is poor
slope stability on the northeast side of telegraph hill. in the 1990's, this cost -- is cause for separate landslides. the landslide caused pires and they mesh fence to be installed. in 1987, a volkswagen size and border from the very sight went through that mesh. in spite of the safety precautions, it was not enough. one block away, at 20-30 alto, the building was undermined by a border and have to be removed. four years ago, he rocks from a landslide ended up in restaurants and cause the relocation of many tenants in buildings nearby. there is a history of slope instability here. there is clearly a project in the -- i support the appeal.
president chiu: are there any other speakers on behalf of the appellant? ok. at this time, why don't we go to planning? >> good evening. i am don lewis. with the planning department. you have received our memo in. after careful consideration, the concerns raised in the letter, the department continues to find the project as exempt. the decision before the board is to of all the department's issuing of a general exclusion and the now i -- and deny the appeal and go to a review. the use of a gre, previous proposals, and piecemeal review.
there is a general rule that a sequel -- this sequel applies only to products that have a significant affect on the environment. projects with no such potential can be excluded. the proposed subdivision concluded there are no associations with the project that suggest the significant environmental effects. the project will have no potential significant affects. there are no unusual circumstances associated with this project. subdivision of a lot would not be considered an unusual circumstance. the likelihood of the project's sponsors defining a non-profit par selby -- parcel b was prepared by john sanger on august 26. they both withdrew their appeal on september 16 because of this.
the fact that there have been a number of past proposals is not relevant to the review of the current project. the current application is for lot subdivision to create two separate lot. if another development is proposed, additional review would be required as well as review by the department of building inspection. past and to technical investigations would be available for use by dbi during its review. it would also require geotechnical affirmation. in some circumstances, there were be a panel made up of gbi review it staff to ensure the safe construction. at this time, no construction or development is proposed. ceqa prohibits environmental review for large projects and
many little projects that have little environmental review on the environment but cumulatively could have major impacts. the -- the commission finds that this does not cost too piecemeal development under ceqa because the department has not received any plans regarding new construction. in conclusion, the department finds that the proposed project would have no significant effect on the environment and fits within the gre requirements for ceqa. the department recommends that the board of told the gre -- uphold the gre. president chiu: the appellant raise the argument that and section 3 of 5 -- 305, you can issue an exemption if the slope is smaller than 20%.
if it is more than that, it requires more than in -- it requires more and are meant to review. we are talking about a slow more than three times that. >> in yes. there are three3 -- 33 category of exemption for ceqa. this project did not hear -- an eir would be required for the subdivision. ceqa offers a general exclusion that says if there is no potential for significant effects on the environment, then they can be excluded from ceqa review. president chiu: the suggestion that if you have a slow > 20%, that is a major alteration. that does not mean anything to you.
>> the reason that class 15 was not used is there is a presumption of development associated with that class. we have no the bomb a proposal before us, as there was in 1998. it would be purely speculative to assume some sort of development. there is nothing at this point. president chiu: let me address something that was just raised. you are saying that you do not see any environmental impact as a result of this subdivision. we just heard testimony from the geothermal experts to suggest that if we subdivide this, the stability of one lot depends on the other and that it are interlinked. if we were to take those facts as true, he does that not create issues from your perspective with regard to environmental review. >> he is assuming there would be no access.
no work done. once you subdivide, you would have no access whatsoever to the other subdivision. right now, we have got the same ownership proposed for the lot and dbi would not lead developing go forward if the law was not secure and safe. president chiu: i appreciate that, but let's say we were to put this forward. the subdivided lots could have two different owners, right? then they would be under control of the same property owner. >> that does not mean development would go forward. there is going to be an barman to review for any development that comes forward on that site. and the planning department and dbi would not allow that to go forward if it were not safe. president chiu: how do you respond to the case law that was cited.
the california case law that cited the need to take into account the cumulative actions. you cannot subdivide and sliced up minor parts of a project and that you need to consider the entire impact. >> right now, we do not have a project. one of the cases that was cited was the extension of a sewer line. assuming that there would be development at the end of the sewer line, otherwise there'd be no point in extending it. you can speculate all you want about what could possibly happen on the developable parcels, but there is nothing before us at this time to rid president chiu: this is a hill that has had a history of landslides over the past couple of decades. if we subdivide the slot and the properties are owned by different owners, if we do not have a guarantee that one owner will assist another if it wants
to develop the lot. >> we do have a guarantee that ceqa will go forward with any proposal that is put before us. if it is found on developable -- undevelopeable, and there will be no project approved. supervisor campos: i am trying to understand what the test is in terms of understanding whether or not there is an exception here. is it a test that there is no environmental impact or that there is potential for environmental impact? those are different things. seems to me that to the extent you are saying potential, that is a somewhat different analysis. i'm wondering if you can speak to that. >> they are assuming some form of development. we know not what.